Intentional weight loss improves cognitive impairment

Patients with mild cognitive impairment experienced cognitive improvement with intentional weight loss through diet, according to recent study findings published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Nidia Celeste Horie, PhD, of the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil, and colleagues evaluated 80 patients with obesity and mild cognitive impairment aged 60 years or older (BMI, 35.5 kg/m2; 83.7% women; 26.3% apolipoprotein E genotype carriers) to determine the effect of intentional weight loss on cognition.

Participants were randomly assigned conventional medical care alone (n = 40) or together with nutritional counseling (n = 40) in group meetings that focus on weight loss through caloric restriction for 12 months.

There was an average decrease of 1.7 kg/m2 for BMI (P = .021) with no significant change in lean mass and 43.8% experienced a greater than 5% weight loss of initial body weight. Significant improvements were found for short physical performance battery, gait speed and time to sit/get up; most of the cognitive tests were improved.

A decrease in BMI was associated with improvements in global cognition, verbal memory, language and executive function. The effect of weight loss was more beneficial for younger participants for verbal memory and language. Older participants had worse executive function. A decrease in BMI was more beneficial for apolipoprotein E genotype carriers.

Improvements in verbal memory and executive function were associated with decreased calorie intake and decreased carbohydrate intake; subjective complaints also were improved with decreased carbohydrate intake. Improvements in verbal memory and trail making test, part B were found with decreased fat intake.

“Intentional weight loss through caloric restriction in obese subjects with [mild cognitive impairment] was safe and correlated with improvements in memory, executive function, global cognition and language, and this association was strongest in younger seniors and [apolipoprotein E genotype] carriers,” the researchers wrote. “Changes in metabolic markers and diet were also associated with improvement in cognitive tests.” – by Amber Cox

The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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